Visiting Shanghai

My whole family is currently visiting me in Shanghai. I’ve got a list of great restaurants to take them to, and a few other fun places as well. We’ll also go to Beijing. I was just wondering if anyone out there can recommend things in Shanghai that appeals to 60ish parent-types?

Specific recommendations as well as links to relevant blog entries or whatever are all welcome. Thanks in advance!

Update: I’ve gotten some helpful suggestions, and I appreciate that. I’m taking them to Hangzhou very soon. This means that (1) I won’t be posting anything else for a few days, and (2) there’s more time to keep those suggestions coming! (Hangzhou is so much easier to be a tourist in than Shanghai… I feel like Shanghai is mostly just eating and shopping.)


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. Just remember to include frequent stops. My parents of similar age have visited Shanghai twice over the past 2 years and I’ve learnt that they can’t go all day any more. Split everything into 2 hour blocks, and include a down-day between some of the bigger days.

    Here’s some ideas I’ve written about over the past few years. Some are a touch old/out of date though.

    Another post I haven’t had time to write about is a trip around Hongkou district. jump on a 939 bus along Beijing Lu and it will take you north along Sichuan Bei Lu to Luxun Park and Duolun Lu Art and Curio district. Mums & Dads love this area, especially on a nice Sunday afternoon. The area surrounding these two locations are really pretty and well-kept compared to Shanghai. Wander some of the streets. This area was also home to a number of China’s great writers, so there are some well-preserved houses to inspect in the general area. Also in this area are the very old houses of Hongkou just north of The Peace Bridge/The Bund to wander around, and the massive Qipu Lu market complex that Mums invariably spend oodles of time in.

    Another fave has been fabric market trips to either the Dongmen Lu or Lujiabang Lu locations to get customised clothes.

    I would also recommend a day trip to Suzhou. Take the bullet train (<40 mins), buy your return ticket immediately that morning, and then hire a mini-bus from Suzhou train-station. This should cost at most RMB50/person, usually RMB150 per day. They’ll try and take you to a Silk Factory for kickbacks, but it is ok for non-English speakers. Cheaper and far more convenient than taking taxis around Suzhou, and you get to see all the Gardens, Tiger Hill, the lakes at your convenience. If you stay another day, you can then hit all the water towns like Tongli and Zhouzhuang more easily than what you could if you were in Shanghai.

    This should keep them busy.


  2. dude, you gotta take ’em to see mao! he’s orange! it’s cool! and while you stand in line for 4 hours, loads of people ask if they can have their photo taken with you! you are a chinese rock star!

  3. When my parents were here they really liked to simply wander. They took a map with their hotel marked on it and a card from their hotel and randomly walked around Shanghai. I had to endure 19 billion hours of stories of their adventures during dinner conversation. But for your parents you definitely have to bring them to the Dongbei place on Shaanxi and a Xinjiang joint and (forgive me) boring hotpot. A Cantonese and Sichuan place would probably round it out. Don’t discount the impact ayi’s food will have on them either. What was typical to you, I, and Lenny, sent my Mom over the Moon.

  4. I really liked the Shanghai Aquarium when I visited it’s a little high though at 100rmb/person (2 years ago), but still pretty good. Also it’s near the Pearl Tower so y’all could go and see both at the same time.

  5. I guess the Sex Museum is probably out of the question.

  6. John,

    Going over to ChongMong Island is not a bad trip. You can take the ferry. The national park there is quite nice. They have the 6 seater golf carts, so you don’t have to walk.

    The Sciene and Technology Musueam is pretty neat. Also I would take them to see the circus in Shanghai. I have never been, but I have sent many a tourist there and they all enjoyed it.

  7. kiwiuncle Says: June 3, 2007 at 1:25 pm

    Depends on the family members’ interests I guess but if anyone is interested in hardware or engineering a wander down Beijing Lu and sidestreets (not sure at which north south road it starts) is always intriguing. Not as interesting as it once was, with engines and compressors and other stuff being “overhauled” on the streets more frequently , not far off Nanjing Dong Lu but still worth a look.

  8. When my parents came here, there was some tour thing of Shanghai they could do which takes about 6 hours and picks up from a few of the hotels. You stop at a silk factory but my parents were really pleased with some duvets they got from there which they thought were really good quality.

    My mum also liked going around Hengshan Lu and the shops around there as she thought they were quite cool. There’s also a quite cool art gallery area where you need to go to one of the train stations and then you get a ride to there(we got them on the back of the motorbikes) but it was quite nice.

    Shanghai doesn’t have loads of tourist things really…… Or at least I didn’t find so.

    My parents liked the Jin Mao tower, we went for hot pot before going up and went to the bar on the 81st floor(I think it’s part of the grand hyatt and called cloud 9) which is nice. You need to spend 120RMB + service per person but considering that you’re getting drinks with that, it’s better than spending 100RMB on the oriental pearl tower and just going up the tower.

  9. If it’s not too late I would take them to that indoor go-cart place/bar that’s open really late. I don’t know if your parents would dig it, but I think either of your sisters probably would.

    In Hangzhou take them to the bamboo forest and down to the Lake to see that street performer that has three monkeys, a dog, and whip.

  10. heilong Says: June 4, 2007 at 6:47 am

    Take the trip to GuiLin, I know you have been looking for an excuse to return and at this time of the year Yang Shuo is great for old people.

  11. John, at least you have to take them to these places from a native’s point of view,
    1. The Bund
    2. Yu Garden/Chenghuang Temple
    3. Nanjing Rd/Huaihai Rd
    4. Shanghai Museum
    5. Yufo (Jade Buddha) Temple
    6. Pudong Lujiazui
    7. Jiading (Confucius Temple, Pagoda, Qiuxiapu Garden)

    of course some are boring for you, but never for a tourist!

  12. don´t forget a tour in the Maglev. And a day off in Tongli.

  13. If you are going to Hangzhou you may want to take a side trip to Longmen Village. I went there when I lived in Fuyang which is an hour from Hangzhou by bus. Longmen is about 30 or so minutes away from Fuyang. The website is and the phone number is 0571-63507988. I enjoyed it. It is a Ming Dynasty village. There is a lot of interesting buildings and it’s pretty and quiet because it is out in the country. I have some panos of parts of the place somewhere on my blog. If you want you can just search for Longmen and it should come up. I don’t know if there is a bus from Hangzhou to Longmen. If there isn’t, hop on the K514 bus and that will take you to Fuyang. There is a bus station in Fuyang that will take you there. Just ask around. I’m pretty sure you speak Chinese and that shouldn’t be a problem for you. Have fun.

  14. sweet! have fun! tell your fam “hello” for me…

  15. 音弗丽娅 Says: June 6, 2007 at 12:28 am

    Nanjing is not a too bad of a place to visit. It housed several dynasties, Taiping kingdom, Republic of China. Also many museums, parks, mausoleum, etc. I would recommend 玄武湖,紫金山,中山陵(if your parents can handle stairs, and there are many of them), 总统府,and 夫子庙 (mostly rebuilt, where people used to take government entrance exams, named after 孔夫子). It’s a little bit far from Shanghai, but I think it’s worth the trip.

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